Wild Wing // The Glory Forever
Recommended Track(s): Hee Haw
Wild Wing is a great local LA band for many boring reasons (technical ability, songwriting skills, stage presence, blarbity blar) and one very good one: they give absolutely zero fucks about what anyone else thinks, does, sounds like or thinks they should sound like. As such The Glory Forever feels like a natural outgrowth of Another Victory for the Forces of Darkness, a previous release that demonstrated the Wild Wing’s talent for marrying twangy roots music to SoCal punk, territory they continue to mine here.
While this second offering is more polished than its predecessor, The Glory Forever retains the first record’s swing and aggression in spades while dispensing with its more awkward qualities. Cow punk is the obvious descriptor for Wild Wing’s sound, aided and abetted by the band’s predilection for posing in front of American flags in trucker hats and butt rock wigs; but I’d describe this new record as a kind of supremely self-aware and self-consciously stupid math rock, in a good way—cuz dudes who make music like this are very much not stupid except in the way that all dudes are inherently stupid, which is why they write songs about boobs and so forth. The technical virtuosity in songs like “Hee Haw” and “Gunslinger” have enough unexpected yet thoroughly tight time changes to make Ash Bowie hurl a beer across the room, without any of the intellectual anomie generally endemic to endless prog-style noodling—check the way the band mashes up a tippy-toe guitar lead with a fist-pumping chorus in “Acid Casanova” for example. This leaves plenty of space for Wild Wing’s other musical hallmark: deliberately pugnacious lyrics aimed squarely at anyone one this band deems as being unserious or way too serious in equal measure, all sung in an affected yokel accent.
Yes, Wild Wing clearly have it in for certain segments of society. Your enjoyment of their barbs depends on how much you identify with the groups they’re taking aim at e.g. fake-ass LA fools who buy pre-ripped jeans and hang out on the Sunset Strip (“So LA”) and “craft beer” enthusiasts aka drunks who conceal their alcoholism by drinking $15 IPAs (“West Coast Craft Brewery Revival”) And yet, no matter how fun it is hearing Wild Wing rip on people that I too strongly dislike, the hardy-har-har irony wears thin when the songs become a bit hookless and half-baked. “Green Reaper” and “Ronald Reagan on the Range” are fine, but don’t leave much of an impression in the way that the galloping “Underground Heaven” or the shambling almost-pop of “She’s Looking Better Everyday” do. Sometimes Wild Wing come off a bit petty—even mean—when hashing out internal beefs without giving the listener context as in the song “Girl Band”.”Your band sucks and so do you,” they sing. Well, why not just call it “Band”, then, unless you have it in for a girl band in particular? Why you gotta be dicks like that?
Yet, just when you think you’ve got Wild Wing pinned, the band becomes achingly, endearingly earnest. How to judge a song like “Steam Train”? This is an honest-to-garsh Americana tune that seems like it should be a parody but is played so straight one can easily imagine this band having passionate debates about whether American Beauty or Workingman’s Dead is the better record. Although the sincerity could be a joke, too.
Clues to Wild Wing’s POV can be found in The Glory Forever‘s cover art, a photograph of George Custer getting his just desserts from Sitting Bull at the Battle of Little Bighorn as staged by Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show performers. They’re serious about their craft but always showmen. They mean what they say except when they don’t. They’re shallow but deeper than you think. That said, Wild Wing is not for everyone. Although the Wild Wing’s young, dumb ‘n full of cum schtick belies a sneaky intelligence, the studied crudeness of their approach will almost certainly lead to the band being dismissed by the “educated classes.” Well, fuck ‘em. With The Glory Forever, Wild Wing have hit upon an honest and interesting sound that’s as good timey as anything you’ll find on a jukebox in Tennessee and as outré as a song from a long OOP 7-inch made by any indie rock band from wherever circa 1989-1993. And in a music scene that’s taking itself way too fucking seriously at present, that’s the punkest thing of all.